Representatives of CSU and the California State Student Association discussed what will happen if the CSU receives an additional $200 million budget cut during a media teleconference involving more than a dozen California universities and newspapers Wednesday.
The teleconference followed a CSU board of trustees meeting on Tuesday during which officials announced an enrollment freeze at all but eight CSU campuses for Spring 2013.
“It’s a pretty grim situation, and our students anticipated a grim situation,” said Miles Nevin, CSSA executive director.
In December 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a tax initiative that would help the CSU system avoid the possible $200 million trigger cut which California voters will decide on in November.
“If the election goes south, so does our budget,” said Robert Turnage, CSU assistant vice chancellor for budget. “We’re looking at this situation fresh on the heels of a $750 million cut. We have not fully come to grips with those cuts.”
Although tuition hikes during the last 18 months have been dramatic, they have not come close to making up for the hundreds of millions in budget cuts the CSU system has suffered, Turnage said.
“We aren’t at a stable point. We still have a gap between the incoming and outgoing of almost a billion dollars. We can’t just sit back and wait to see what happens, we have to take action now,” he said.
The salaries of faculty and staff account for 85 percent of the CSU budget, according to Turnage.
“Our ability to provide course sections gets impacted very heavily unless we try to keep some equilibrium between the number of students and faculty. We have to drop the number of people who are working for us if we have to come up with another $200 million” he said.
Additionally, Turnage said the board will have no choice but to reduce enrollment for the next two admission cycles.
“The direction we gave with regard to Spring ‘13 was pretty close to shutting down admission,” Turnage said.
The enrollment period of Oct. 1 to Nov. 12 for the Spring 2013 semester will provide some flexibility in terms of assessing student enrollment, Turnage said.
“We’ll know the outcome of the election and whether the trigger cut has gone off,” Turnage said. “We’ll make adjustments and know whether we can let in a normal amount of students.”
For Fall 2013, Turnage said, “We have to look ahead that far because if the tax initiative fails, we’re looking at continuing austerity from the state. It will take a while for something else to come in and fill the coffers.”
Nevin said CCSA and CSU are engaged in a joint and comprehensive plan for budget that includes system-wide advocacy for education.
During the conference call Turnage and Nevin were asked to explain the rationale behind the 10 percent salary increases approved Tuesday for the presidents of CSU East Bay and CSU Fullerton.
“We’re not talking about raises,” Turnage said. “We’re talking about hiring decisions, people who are coming in new to a particular campus.”
Turnage cited the large amount of responsibility that comes with the role of university president and said the goals are to provide universities with leaders who have exceptional academic backgrounds, unique skill sets, and who “pay for their time and compensation time and time again by the money they raise.”
“The CSSA board wants to remain focused on what is the primary issue, which is that the legislature has cut funding for students,” Nevin said.
Enrollment in the coming semesters will be largely dependent on whether Brown’s tax initiative passes, Nevin and Turnage said.
In the meantime, thousands of students will be denied enrollment into the CSU system in Spring 2013.